Best Tips to Treat Swollen Feet from Diabetes

January 08,2021 |
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Living with diabetes is more than taking insulin when your blood sugar levels are too high. It requires ongoing management to avoid potentially life-threatening complications, mindful eating, and doing what you can to find support and improve your mental health. When diabetes management isn’t upheld properly, it leads to problems such as neuropathy, diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, skin complications, changes in eyesight, and problems with your feet. If you notice any changes to your body or start to lose sensation in your limbs, contact your doctor immediately. Certain complications can be fatal when not addressed immediately. When facing issues with your lower extremities, here are some of the best tips to treat swollen feet from diabetes.   

Why Causes Your Feet to Swell?

When a localized area of your body swells, it can be an indication of a number of things. Inflammation and injury are common factors, but in some cases, it’s caused by edema. An edema is when an area of your body begins to swell due to the accumulation of fluid in your tissues. This can happen for a number of reasons—diets that are high in sodium, staying in one position for too long, and even hormonal changes. Another cause of edema is diabetes. If you experience swelling with diabetes, it can be caused by something serious and should be examined and treated quickly.

The Link Between Diabetes and Swelling

While diabetes itself doesn’t damage your circulatory system, high levels of glucose do. When your blood glucose levels are too high for too long, it begins to damage the lining of small blood vessels, thus resulting in poor circulation. When your blood isn’t circulating efficiently, it gets trapped in certain areas—especially the lower extremities.

If you are living with diabetes and are experiencing swollen feet, it’s likely that you’re also suffering from one or more of the following factors:

  • Obesity
  • Poor circulation
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Medication side effects

Since diabetes has a direct correlation to healing speed, you need to monitor any signs of swollen feet for ulcers, sprains, cuts, or other types of foot/ankle injury. When these are left untreated, infection can occur, which can lead to serious problems and in rare cases, amputation.

If you notice any signs of swelling, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. In the meantime, you can follow these tips to help treat swollen feet.

The Top 10 Ways to Treat Swollen Feet 

1. Wear Compression Socks

Compression stockings put a slight pressure on your feet and legs to help improve circulation and manage swollen feet. If you have questions about compression socks or stockings, talk to your doctor about how to use them correctly. They sell them online, at many stores, and come in varying compression levels. For proper use, your doctor can help you determine which level of compression will be best for you. You don’t want them to be too tight or too loose and you should never use compression socks over an open wound, ulcer, or sore.

2. Keep Your Feet Elevated

If you’re going to be seated for long periods of time, try to elevate your feet as much as possible. While the best way to do this is to elevate your feet above the heart, this isn’t always feasible. Use an ottoman or consider getting a foot hammock that you can install under your desk. If you’re relaxing on the couch or in bed, elevate your feet using pillows or a special elevation device.

3. Stay Hydrated

Your body needs water to function at its best. While it seems counterintuitive, the more water you drink, the less you retain. Make sure that you’re staying hydrated throughout the day and avoid drinking too much caffeine, sugary sports drinks, or soda. Aim for 8 to 10 glasses of water throughout the day—more if you’re engaging in exercise. In conjunction with hydration, discuss your cause of edema with your doctor to avoid complications. If you have an edema due to heart or liver problems, you may need to restrict your fluid intake.

4. Reduce Sodium Intake

Similarly, since salt can make you retain fluids, you should reduce your sodium intake. Luckily, there are plenty of other herbs you can use to season your meals. Try to limit your sodium to no more than 2,300mg/day, less if you need to manage your diabetes more strictly. Talk to your doctor to determine what levels of sodium are safe for you to ingest. 

5. Incorporate Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium is an essential nutrient that helps our bodies function, yet many people aren’t getting enough from diet alone. Talk to your doctor about safely incorporating a magnesium supplement into your routine. Magnesium has been shown to regulate nerve function and stabilize blood sugar levels. By taking 200 to 400mg of magnesium per day, you can help treat swollen feet from diabetes. As always, talk to your doctor before taking new supplements to make sure that they won’t interact with other medications or cause complications.

6. Give Yourself an Epsom Soak

Epsom salt has been shown to help relieve swelling-associated pain and reduce inflammation in the body. For best results, put a sufficient amount of Epsom salt in a foot bath of cool water. If you have diabetic neuropathy in your feet, make sure that you double check the water temperature to avoid exposure to extreme temperature. Proceed to soak your feet and ankles for about 15 to 20 minutes.

7. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is important for a number of reasons—it helps to improve your bone health, increase circulation, and stabilize blood sugar levels. Exercising is a great way to manage your diabetes in a healthy way and avoid excessive swelling. If you don’t currently have an exercise regimen, speak with your doctor before starting one. Since rigorous exercise can be dangerous, start with basic workouts and slowly increase the intensity. Take it slow and be consistent to reap the benefits.

8. Try to Lose Some Weight

The more you weigh, the more pressure that your lower extremities are under. To help treat swollen feet, try to get to a healthy weight and maintain it. While it can seem overwhelming, making small healthy changes to your everyday routine can lead to big differences. Maintaining a healthy weight will make diabetes management easier, lower your risk of complications, and help you retain more stable blood sugar levels.

9. Avoid Sedentary Behavior

Sedentary behavior is one of the worst things for our bodies. When you’re seated for long periods of time, inflammation increases, circulation decreases, and swelling appears. You don’t have to get up and run a mile every hour to make a difference. Instead, try to walk around for five minutes every hour to get the blood flowing. Again, small changes can make a big difference.  

10. Wear Good Shoes

If you’re constantly on your feet throughout the day, make sure that you’re wearing the right shoes. People with diabetes should avoid wearing shoes that are too tight, shoes that don’t have adequate arch support, and high heels. This helps reduce your chances of problems like diabetic foot ulcers. Experts suggest buying a pair of shoes that are one size bigger just in case your feet begin to swell. If your shoes are too tight and you get swollen feet, it can cut off circulation and cause numbness. For the perfect fit, consider seeing a podiatrist or finding a shop that specializes in diabetic foot ware.

11. Get a Foot Massage

Not only do massages feel great, but they’ve also been proven to help improve your circulation. Massages can help encourage blood flow in the extremity and therefore, reduce pain that’s associated with the localized swelling. Your foot massage doesn’t have to be professional, but you might find that you get more relief from a licensed therapist. Have them localize the massage on your feet and legs and make sure that you’re lying in an elevated position. Using long, gentle strokes and circular motion, massage from the bottom of your foot upwards toward the heart.

If you notice any signs of swelling or other problems with your feet, make sure that you talk to your doctor to rule out any serious problems. While there are plenty of ways to help treat swollen feet, you should always have a continuous glucose monitor with you at all times to ensure safe diabetes management. For more support with your diabetes management, sign up for Byram Healthcare’s Caring Touch At Home Program. We offer a combination of convenience, affordability, and choice to make sure that you live your best life, regardless of diabetes. For any questions, or if you need a little extra support, call our Diabetes Center of Excellence today.